Golf games tend to come in a variety of flavors. You have the realistic simulation games like PGA Tour 2K21, the more arcade-centric games like Mario Golf: Super Rush, and abstract and minimalist titles like Golf Club: Wasteland. A Little Golf Journey is at the last campground, showcasing short, breezy levels with a selection of relaxing music. It is a game that knows what it wants to be, but it is true that it is in constant danger of repetition thanks to a clear lack of variety in the levels.
Like many of the more minimalist golf games on the market, A Little Golf Journey does not include any real players, no crowds of support; it’s just you and the ball. Each level is set up like a kind of diorama, and you start surveying the area by navigating with your camera, tracing the best possible route to the hole. Once you are done, you can set up your shot.
Targeting and setting your power level is nice and simple. Just move the analog stick in the direction you want to go, with a support arrow showing you exactly where the ball is likely to hit the ground. You can hold down ‘ZR’ to add a little extra power to your shot, although this will increase the chances of the ball drifting into the rough or a bunker. On the contrary, holding ‘ZL’ allows you to focus your shot and ensure you hit the ball exactly in the desired direction.
The progression in the game feels like a “2010 mobile game”, with each level handing out a number of stars based on its performance. Sink the ball in as few strokes as you can (you know how golf works, right?) And you will most likely get 3 or 4 stars; The more shots you take to find your target, the more stars will start to fall. You move from one scenario to another in a linear fashion, but eventually the game will require you to possess a certain number of stars before it allows you to access the next set of scenarios. All standard stuff.
With this in mind, replaying the levels is key to progression. The first time we collided with a barrier in the central world, we discovered that we were only 2 stars missing to access the next area. The game doesn’t directly tell you about the star requirement, but once we figured it out, the progression became a lot easier.
That does not mean that the game is entirely easy, however. Plunging a hole into one often feels like an impossibility, as your shot simply won’t hit the green in the vast majority of stages. This would be fine, except that earning as many stars as possible often requires you to complete the stage in just one or two shots at most, so it seems like the game is often setting you up for failure.
Replaying the levels only serves to exacerbate the feeling that A Little Golf Journey is simply too repetitive. When you go from one set of levels to the next, the visual layout changes and some fields look really beautiful. However, this does not change the fact that the terrain simply lacks variety. The game clearly strives to provide a relaxing experience, but in doing so it strives to give plenty of incentives to keep playing.